Meta tags seem like nothing more than HTML tags describing the content of your website’s pages. However, did you know that when used correctly, meta tags can help increase Web traffic? Even better, setting up the tags takes little effort and returns a lot of advantages.
So how do these tags help exactly?
Meta tags are inserted at the top of every site’s pages. They tell the search engines what your website is all about; and sometimes, they give search engines a brief description to use when displaying results about your website.
A couple of years ago, SEO people would stuff keywords into meta tags because they were thought to increase Google traffic and page rank. For awhile, this notion might have been true; but in September 2009, Google officially dumped this theory. Even so, anyone who’s serious about increasing search engine traffic should adopt this strategy.
Although meta tags have no impact on search engine rankings (according to Google), they’re still picked up and are highlighted in the search results. Thus, if you have a clever combination of the right keywords, you can very well boost your click through rate. Besides, first impressions count. So, the users’ first impression of your site will be based on, you guessed it right, your meta data.
How do you spruce up your meta tags?
Here are some tips on enhancing your meta tags:
1. Place the tags right
Meta tags are placed in the <HEAD> </HEAD> part of your HTML document. The scripts, title tag and meta tags aren’t visible on the page itself.
Here’s what your meta tags should look like:
<META name=”description” content=”briefly describe your page’s content and include some keywords”>
<META name=”keywords” content=”include a list of your keywords and separate them with commas”>
2. Keep the description short
Google cuts off meta data that are longer than 150-160 words. Think twitter tweets when it comes to word limit. Besides, if you go over the word limit, chances are your target audience will feel bored by the lengthy description.
There are some search engines, however, that allow meta tags with 200 characters. The length of your tags, therefore, will depend on the search engine you’re optimizing for.
3. Come up with compelling meta tags
Good meta data should be something that’ll make Internet users say, “this website sounds like exactly what I’m looking for!” Make the description as compelling and interesting as possible. A good way to encourage users to click the link to your site is to put yourself in the potential visitor’s shoes, and then say the meta data in such a way that relates to them. It’s great if you can put the keywords in there, but if you can’t, don’t lose sleep trying to.
Remember, even if you have the best website in the world, Internet users will remain unaware if you can’t encourage them to click through.
4. Create unique meta data
It’s unlikely that you’ll get a penalty for duplicate content, but it’s always better to have original descriptions. Not only do you prevent unpleasant consequences, you also have more chances of showing up on relevant results pages of Google and other search engines.
Dont’s of meta tags
1. Never use special characters
These include quotes and other non-alpha numerical characters. Should your meta tags include such characters, they’ll only be replaced with gibberish or not included in the results at all.
2. Don’t stuff the meta data with keywords
As much as possible, don’t repeat your keywords more than three times in one description. Otherwise, Google might penalize you. Having descriptions loaded with keywords is one basis for exclusion from the search results. That means no search engine traffic for you.
Moreover, the purpose of the meta data is to invite the human reader to click through to your website. A keyword-rich description is good, but you should also focus on the human reader.
3. Avoid duplicating the title tag
Your meta description should not be a duplicate of your title tag. The key is describing the content of your page in a short and precise manner.
Meta tags tools
Meta tag tools look at your webpages’ tags and then examines them if their compatible with search engines. The tool checks if your website sticks to the guidelines of search engines like Google. For example, if your webpage’s title tag goes beyond 65 characters, the tool gives you a warning.
Other tools designed for meta tags help you generate effective page titles, keyword tags and meta descriptions. Consider a meta tag tool that updates their software based on search engines’ algorithm, which are constantly updated.
Meta tags are just as important as the title of a certain webpage. Stay relevant because, after all, there’s no point in including the keyword “women’s shoes” if you’re selling computer software. Furthermore, make sure to focus on your target users and potential customers.